Thursday, August 13, 2009

Brazil Urges Obama to act on Honduras

Brazil Urges Obama to Tighten the Vise on Honduras to
Get Zelaya Back

August 13, 2009

Zelaya meets Lula in Brasília The President of Brazil,
Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, and ousted Honduran
President Manuel Zelaya called on Wednesday, August 12,
on the United States to use more political influence to
help solve the Honduran crisis.

Zelaya, who was received in Brazilian capital Brasília
with full head of state honors for a one day visit,
said Washington should address the issue with more
energetic measures such as trade sanctions against the
Honduran interim government. Almost 70% of the Honduran
economy depends on the United States.

Following the hour and a half meeting in Brasília,
President Lula reaffirmed support for Zelaya's
"immediate and unconditional" return to Honduras. The
Brazilian promised to talk to his US peer Barack Obama
on the issue at "an appropriate time."

Brazilian Foreign Minister Celso Amorim told the press
that Zelaya's return would largely depend on the
position of the United States.

"President Lula said that clearly: we are concerned by
the delay (in Zelaya's return), because as time passes,
the chances for President Zelaya's legitimate elections
calendar (scheduled for November) is weakening" Amorim
said. Zelaya was expected to end his term as president
at year-end.

Amorim insisted it all depends on "how the United
States will act; it must be a multilateral action. We
believe that actions should be conducted by the OAS
(Organization of American States)."

Zelaya was deposed in a June 28 coup and flown to
neighboring Costa Rica. Following the coup, Brazil
recalled its ambassador from Honduras and suspended
cooperation with the Central American nation.

The ousted Honduran president is scheduled to meet
Chilean president Michelle Bachelet Thursday in
Santiago. On Wednesday the Chilean Foreign Affairs
ministry informed that on request from the "legitimate
government of President Zelaya", the Honduran
ambassador in Santiago no longer has that status and
must "hand over his diplomatic immunities."

Meanwhile in Tegucigalpa thousands of protesters
calling for the return of deposed president Zelaya
clashed with police for the second day in a row. Youths
with bandannas covering their faces threw rocks at
police outside Honduras' congressional building. The
police, protecting themselves with riot shields,
periodically launched tear gas to disperse them.

It was unclear how many protesters took part in the
demonstration. Police placed the number at 3,000; pro-
Zelaya supporters said 10,000. There were no reports of
deaths or injuries, but police said they'd arrested at
least 43 people.

On Tuesday, Honduran authorities declared a curfew in
the capital after the protesters, many of whom arrived
by foot from outside Tegucigalpa in their largest
organizing effort yet, broke windows, looted a Dunkin'
Donuts franchise and set fire to a municipal bus.

Most commerce seemed to carry on as usual Wednesday,
though teachers and medical professionals who were
striking in solidarity with Zelaya shut down public
schools and hospitals.


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